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Issue 19

Featuring: Growing Pitayas; Seed Swapping & Producing Quality Hay.

Turkey (Domesticated) ( Meleagris gallopavo )

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The domesticated turkey is a large poultry bird. The modern domesticated form descends from the wild turkey ( Meleagris gallopavo ). It was domesticated by the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica at least 2,000 years ago, with the evidence pointing to what are today the central regions of Mexico (Guerrero, Veracruz and Jalisco). Ancient Mesoamericans domesticated this subspecies, using its meat and eggs as major sources of protein and employing its feathers extensively for decorative purposes. The Aztecs associated the turkey with their god of night and sorcery, Tezcatlipoca (“Smoking Mirror”), as well as the patron deity of Aztec kings and of young warriors. Domestic turkeys were taken to Europe by the Spanish. Many distinct breeds were developed in Europe. In…

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Good Pesticide Management Practices Farmer Recognition Initiative

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The Pesticides Control Board (PCB), in collaboration with the Food Safety Department of the Belize Agricultural Health Authority, the Extension Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources & Agriculture (MNRA) and the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) in Belize is pleased to announce the commencement of a voluntary initiative designed to assist horticulture farmers in improving their pesticide management practices. Since its inception in 1988, PCB has focused on the promotion of rational pesticide management for the protection of human health and the environment among pesticide users, primarily those involved in crop production, through its national training programme for the certification of users of restricted-use pesticides. The decision to use pesticides requires great responsibility on the part of the pesticide user.…

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To The Editor

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Dear Editor, I am the administrator of a Facebook group called Belizeans Against GMO’s (BAGMO.) I post information almost daily, keeping our membership of over 1,500 people well-informed on GMO developments all across the world. https://www.facebook.com/groups/bagmo/ I invite your readers to join BAGMO so they, too, might stay current in this rapidly-changing field. On Wednesday, Nov. 7, I attended the Belize Grain Grower’s meeting where Dr. Caroline Herron, a UB instructor, gave a presentation about the positive benefits of Biotechnology with emphasis on GMO’s. I was sorely disappointed to see that a good amount of her data was outdated… much of it more than ten years old. I was also discouraged that the group did not want to discuss anything…

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Fair Exchange: Seed Swapping

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I returned home from my two–year study in Taiwan with a hunger for my local greens. At my first opportunity I went to the market to seek out my favorite, calalloo, also known as vegetable amaranth. (See Issue 17 of Belize Ag Report.) As I walked around the Belize City Queen’s Square Market I spotted a few different varieties I had never noticed before. I walked up to the stall that had calalloo with the most luscious leaves and took a couple bunches home. I found myself at the market every other day taking a bunch or two home. I decided that if I started to grow my own, and a few other vegetables that I liked, it would be…

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Recent Test Shows Dangers of Genetically Modified Food

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Belize City: November 12 th 2012: — The verdict is now in – Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) NK603 corn causes cancers in rats. September 19 th , 2012 the independent team led by Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini at the CRIIGEN lab at the University of Caen published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology the findings of a two-year feeding trial of rats using Monsanto’s NK603 Roundup tolerant corn (maize) and Roundup herbicide (the brand name weed- killer containing glyphosate many GM crops are designed to resist). The research found: Death rates in rats fed GM maize was 70% in females and 50% in males compared to the 20% and 30% in control animals. Female death rates were 2-3 times higher…

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Weeds

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I have been doing a lot of gardening lately, so weeds have been on my mind as well as in my garden. As a very small child, I remember crawling in the grass of our small back yard and being enthralled with the little yellow flowers that bloomed there in the spring. However, much to my amazement, no one wanted dandelions in their grass; adults spent much time and energy prying them up with a two-pronged tool – until “weed killer” came along. During my infancy and youth, we lived in a suburban neighborhood of modest one and two family homes. The home next to ours was owned by a ninety-six year old lady, Mrs. Ashley, and her middle-aged, unmarried…

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Beyond The Backyard – A Passionate Pursuit

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In London back in the sixties my Aussie and New Zealand flat mates introduced me to a dynamic duo: Pavlova and passion fruit, the first being a famed baked meringue created and named for the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, and the second said to be an absolute must as a topping: kiwi, strawberries, passion fruit and cream. Now some 40 years later I am finally growing passion fruit in my garden. Although there are over 500 species of passiflora and evidence of early cultivation in North America it is claimed to hail from South America, discovered by 15 th century Spanish missionaries. As the priests cast their eyes on the glorious blooms on this vigorous vine they were struck by…

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Gimme Dat Good Black Soil

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I have heard many an exclamation all over Belize that “black soil da di best!”. When people are asked just what is black soil, the answer is usually that my mother, grandpa or some relative in the rural areas always said so and as long as it is black it is good. There is both truth and falsehood in that statement and this article attempts to provide an explanation of the real situation. It is true that soils with fair amounts of sand, silt and clay and lots of organic matter are usually easy to cultivate and are usually rich with available nutrients. On the other hand, soils with lots of clay, little silt and sand with high organic matter…

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Humates to the Rescue

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The importance of nitrogen (N) in the soil is well understood; what may not be well understood by farmers is the adverse long-term effect of synthetic N fertilizers on the soil. Recent research by University of Illinois scientists shows that its application over time depletes the soil of carbon and undermines the health of the soil. They discovered at the Morrow Plots, the oldest research plots in the USA, that high inputs of N stimulate soil microbes to feed and eventually that accelerated process causes the organic matter to disappear before it can become humified (I.e., humification is interrupted by removal and volatilization of carbon before it reaches the form of humus.) Plant residues that are left behind in crop…

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Attracting Butterflies to your Belizean Backyard

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Landscaping your yard to attract butterflies is as simple as providing food, water and shelter for all stages of the butterfly life cycle. Adult butterflies feed on nectar while caterpillars and larvae eat the leaves of specific plants, their “host” plants. You can improve your chances of attracting butterflies to your garden by implementing a few principles into your landscape and planting shrubs and flowers butterflies love. Butterflies are attracted to masses of colorful flowers in sunny locations and they need shady cool-down areas for protection when it is hot. Plant a variety of flowering annuals and perennials for mass color. Belize has a number of butterfly- friendly native plants that grow very easily. Some are so prevalent that they…

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